Posted by James Briggs on December 03, 2001
In Reply to: Seeing a man about a horse posted by ESC on December 03, 2001
: : Where in the world did this come from - "Seeing a man about a horse" when heading to the restroom?
: Search the archives under "see a man" for more discussion.
: TO SEE A MAN ABOUT A DOG (OR HORSE) - "Although in the late nineteenth century, to 'see a man about a dog' meant to visit a woman for sexual purposes, it now means to go to the bathroom. It is, of course, a traditional answer to the questions Where are you going or What's your destination? The variations on these expressions are endless and include: Go see a dog about a horse, go and see a dog about a man, go and shoot a dog, go and feed a dog, go and feed the goldfish, go and mail a letter and go to one's private office." From the "The Wordsworth Book of Euphemism" by Judith S. Neaman and Carole G. Silver (Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire, 1995).
: And on an old blues recording I have, the performer said he had to "go see a man about a horse" and he meant he was going to go do some drugs. A little play on "horse" for heroin.
Here's what I believe I posted before on the 'Dog' theme:
When someone says that they are going to see a man about a dog they really mean that they are unwilling to reveal the true nature of their business. The expression comes from the long forgotten 1866 play Flying Scud in which one of the characters uses the words as an excuse to get away from a tricky situation. This is the only thing that seems to have survived from the play.